Saturday, April 27, 2013

New flax, old flax

The weather has been perfect for flax planting!

McLean Park, Means of Production garden, my plot and I hope the other grow-alongs are all now planted, the Aberthau flax will be sown in May. I have 7sq m of flax sown. Not enough for a shirt, but I'm hoping for a furoshiki and a vest.

While building a living willow sculpture of a spinning wheel as a memorial for a friend* (more on this later), one of the group of friends weaving told us she had a lot of 20 year old dried flax plants that she had grown herself, in her basement. She is happy to donate them to the Urban Weaver and we are delighted to have them.

This means we will be able to start doing some retting experiments to see what works best, in advance of our own crop being ready. I expect the bath in the field house will be the first place we'll try. Expect more posts on what we find out!

* The willow spinning wheel

A very good friend of mine - spinner, weaver, dyer (all that good stuff!), died this year. Neither Sharon (Kallis) or I can work out which of us had the idea for a willow sculpture memorial, but her husband invited 5 of her close friends and with Sharon's expert design and leadership we wove a willow spinning wheel together.

The wheel is made if living willow, so new growth will need to be woven in, or clipped. This shouldn't be a problem, as the area of stones you can see on the left of the picture is the site of the new 84sq m flax and dye bed that will be built next week at Aberthau. That means there will always be someone around tending to the flax or the dye plants.

Here's what a friend who lives abroad (another willow weaver/spinner/dyer) wrote about the memorial:

Masami's Wheel is a lovely willow sculpture and a very fine memorial. It is fine tribute to Masami and a credit to all of the folks who made it.

If the sculpture develops into a group of young willow trees, it will become less of a sculpture, but a more lasting memorial.

If the remnants of the sculpture are allowed to develop into mature trees, they will be a feature in the landscape for decades.  

If these trees are periodically pollarded, they could become "veteran trees" and might survive for centuries

I love the idea of a "floating" memorial.  Will it last until next month/year/decade/century?  Who knows? That is the beauty of it!

Myself, I love the idea that her wheel, and eventually the willows that it generates, will stand watch over the flax and dye bed for us.

No comments:

Post a Comment